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Best resistance bands 2021: Stretch yourself and get stronger with the best resistance bands to buy

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Resistance bands are a simple and effective way to get fit – here are the best available right now

A set of resistance bands should be the first bit of kit you pick up for your home workouts. It’s tempting to opt for a heaving rack of free weights, a treadmill or exercise bike, but in terms of getting the most bang for your buck, you can’t do better than a set of resistance bands.

The low price isn’t the only reason resistance bands are a useful purchase, either. They are portable and provide an effective way to get fitter in a variety of ways.

You can use them for strength workouts that build larger muscles, for fast-paced high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions that improve your cardiovascular fitness or even for mobility exercises to help with injury rehabilitation and to stretch out your body.

They are, in short, a must for any fitness fan, so make sure you scan our top resistance band picks below carefully to find your perfect set. Before that, however, here’s everything you need to know when buying resistance bands.

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Best resistance bands: At a glance

  • Best straight resistance band: Theraband Resistance Band | Buy now
  • Best resistance bands for beginners: Fitness Mad Mini Power Loop Set | Buy now
  • Best resistance hip band: Strength Shop Hip Band | Buy now
  • Best resistance band set: Protone Resistance Bands Set | Buy now
  • Best resistance band for pilates: Meglio Pilates Band 2m | Buy now

How to buy the best resistance bands for you

What types of resistance bands are there?

There are three common types of resistance bands: flat or straight bands, loop bands and tube bands.

Straight bands are the most basic kind and, while they can be used for all kinds of exercise, they're perhaps best reserved for basic stretching and mobility work. Since they don’t have handles, they're harder to use for strength work.

Loop resistance bands are good for strength training, especially the lower body. They come in different sizes and it’s generally worth getting a small and a large band because the former is handy for looping around your legs and the latter can be looped around both your shoulders and feet for exercises such as squats. Loop bands are also the easiest type of band to use to assist pull-ups.

One particular kind of loop band is known as a hip band. These are typically wider than standard rubber bands and made from a fabric material. Designed to be looped around your thighs to work your lower body and glutes, they're especially handy when warming up in the gym. The wider fabric material is more comfortable to wear around the legs than a thin rubber band, and won’t slip down your thighs when doing resisted squats or walks.

Tube resistance bands, meanwhile, come with detachable handles and are the most effective type for strength training, especially when it comes to the upper body. With most sets, you can attach more than one band to the handles at a time to increase the resistance. You can also find figure-of-eight tube resistance bands with fixed handles, which are shorter than other resistance bands and so are useful for upper body exercises where you don’t need a huge range of motion.

What extras should I get with resistance bands?

Resistance bands are simple bits of kit but there are a couple of added extras worth having, chief among which is a door attachment because anchoring the bands to a fixed point is required for many types of exercise.

A carry bag is also useful if you’re planning on taking your resistance bands on the road and you can get ankle straps to attach the bands to, which again increases the range of exercises you can do. Certain band sets will also come with a basic workout manual, which is handy for beginners.

How much resistance do I need?

As a minimum, it’s worth getting a set of three bands of differing resistances to ensure you have what you need for a variety of exercises. You can also then double or triple up bands to increase the amount of resistance, which will be important as you get stronger and require more of a challenge.

Resistance bands are typically colour-coded to indicate the different levels of resistance but – and this is crucial– there’s no universal system for these colors, so check carefully with the set you buy. As a very general rule, blacks and blues tend to indicate more resistance, greens and reds are in the middle and yellows are lighter resistance – but don’t hold us to that. Light resistance bands are usually around 4-5kg at maximum stretch, and the heaviest bands commonly found in sets will be 18kg. You can find individual bands that offer over 30kg of resistance, however, which are often gold.

How much do resistance bands cost?

You can pick up a simple set of basic loop resistance bands for £10 or less, and even comprehensive tube sets with more bands and plenty of attachments will only set you back £15-£20. Individual bands will usually cost somewhere in the range of £3-£7, with basic strap bands at the cheaper end of the scale.

How long will resistance bands last?

Strap and loop resistance bands won’t last as long as tube bands, but you can still expect them to get you through one or two years of workouts without breaking or losing their snap. Store them out of the sunlight to extend their life. Tube bands are hardier and should last a couple more years, although again it's important to store them out of the sun.

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The best resistance bands to buy

1. Theraband Resistance Bands: Best straight resistance band

Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon

The simplest type of resistance band of all, but it’s still possible to go wrong by buying a flimsy straight band that will only last a couple of light stretches before losing their snap. These Theraband strips are perfect for mobility and rehab sessions, and if you opt for the heavier resistance bands you can expect them to last a year or two.

It’s worth buying a few bands and progressing through the levels of resistance, right up to the terrifyingly strong gold band, which will work for strength workouts as well as rehab and stretching. You can pick how a long a length you’d like – between one and five metres – and if you opt for a longer strip it’s easy to knot and use as a loop band.

Key specs – Resistance range: Eight levels, from tan (extra light) to gold (max); Length: 2m; Accessories: None


2. ProIron Resistance Bands: Best resistance bands for pull-ups

Price: From £8 | Buy now from Amazon

Like all resistance bands, these hardy, long-looped bands have a wide range of uses, but they really excel when it comes to squats and assisted pull-ups. When it comes to the former, the purple, red and black bands offer high levels of resistance that will challenge even experienced gym-goers.

All of the bands can help you on the way to completing unassisted pull-ups by providing a bit of a boost when you loop them round the bar and pop one or both feet on them for the exercise. You should take your weight and fitness into account when picking the right band to support you for pull-ups – stronger bands provide more assistance while also being better for heavier users. Or you could just go for the strongest black band which will ping you right back up to the bar on each rep.

Key specs – Resistance range: Five levels, from green (6kg-13kg) to black (36kg-67kg); Length: 204cm; Accessories: None


3. Fitness Mad Mini Power Loop Set: Best resistance band set for beginners

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

Fitness Mad’s set contains five 35cm long latex bands of varying resistance levels (x-light, light, medium, strong, x-strong); all this for just under £10 makes it a great set for the beginner looking to get into resistance training and to gradually build up their strength. According to Fitness Mad, the multi-purpose bands are suited to a variety of workouts including yoga, pilates, crossfit and rehab.

The set also comes with a mesh bag for tidy storage and on-the-go use, as well as a basic downloadable user guide.

Key specs – Resistance range: Five levels, from X-Light to X-Strong; Length: 35cm; Accessories: Carry bag, downloadable user guide


4. Strength Shop Hip Band: Best resistance hip band

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

Strength Shop offers a range of great hip bands, including longer and stiffer options than this band. However, this is a great all-purpose choice for use during workouts, or when warming up your legs and glutes ahead of a squat-heavy session in the gym.

The wide fabric band is easy to slip up over your legs and comfortable to use because the material won’t catch and tug on your leg hairs like a rubber band. If you want something stiffer to use for warm-ups in the gym, the company's Thor Band is the way to go.

Key specs – Resistance range: N/A; Length: 35.5cm; Accessories: None

5. Protone Resistance Bands Set: Best resistance band set

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Everything you’re likely to ever need for your resistance band workouts comes in this set, including five different bands with detachable handles so you’ll never progress out of the resistance available. If you don’t believe us, try attaching all five bands to the handles at once and knocking out a set of bicep curls.

Along with door and ankle attachments, you get a band guard with the set. This sleeve goes around the band at the point it is wrapped around a bar or similar anchor to stop the band rubbing directly on the surface during your exercises, which can damage it.

Key specs – Resistance range: Five levels, from yellow (1.4-11.8kg) to black (9-18kg); Length: Not given; Accessories: Carry bag, door attachment, ankle straps


6. Meglio Pilates Band 2m: Best resistance band for Pilates

Price: From £5 | Buy now from Amazon

Whether you’re an old hand at Pilates or new to the practice, a resistance band is a useful accessory to have. If you’re experienced already, you can use it to increase the difficulty of Pilates by adding resistance, while for beginners the band can be used to help support the body so you’re in the right position – and make certain moves more achievable.

The Meglio band is perfect for Pilates, with a long, wide design and a textured surface that stops it slipping if you’ve worked up a sweat. It also makes it less likely that the band will bunch up against your skin, which can be both annoying and painful. Despite being 2m long, it’s easy to roll up or fold the band and slip it into a pocket in your bag, and it’s light enough that you’ll forget about it until your next class.

Key specs – Resistance range: One level; Length: 1.2m, 2m; Accessories: None


7. Pure2Improve Pro Resistance Bands: Best large looped resistance bands

Price: From £11 (Light) | Buy now from Amazon

These heavy-duty looped bands are ideal for increasing the difficulty of moves like squats, press-ups and bench presses, and the extra heavy band in particular is a great option for experienced gym-goers looking to imitate their lifting routine at home without picking up expensive free weights. They are also great for people who use a band for assisted pull-ups, in which case it’s worth grabbing a range of bands so you can swap to a lighter band for less assistance as you get stronger.

There are four bands in the range, with the yellow band being the lightest and providing 15kg of resistance. Next it’s the red band at 20kg, then the black at 35kg and the heaviest is the grey band at 50kg. You can pick up the complete set from Eleiko for £111, or shop for individual bands on Amazon.

Key specs – Resistance range: Four levels, from light (15kg) to extra heavy (50kg); Length: 101.6cm; Accessories: None


8. MyFit Resistance Bands Set: Best for guided training

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

MyFit’s set of excellent resistance bands comes with handles, ankle straps and a door anchor to open up a world of possibilities in terms of the exercises you can do with them. You can also use multiple straps at once with the handles to increase the total resistance you’re working against, making the set even more versatile.

Then there’s the accompanying MyFit app, which contains video guides to show you how to correctly perform a wide range of exercises, broken down by the muscle groups each movement targets. This makes it easy to put together a workout that hits the muscles you’re keen to strengthen, and ensures you get the most out of the various bands and anchors you get with the set.

Key specs – Resistance range: Five levels, from 5kg-18kg; Length: n/s; Accessories: Handles, ankle straps, door anchor, carry bag and MyFit app